For a few years, pumpkin ales had a bad rap as a cheesy, novelty beer that only the gullible would try and did not even include pumpkins as an ingredient. Just pumpkin pie spices on top of a generic porter style of beer.
That time has passed and now there is a cornucopia a gourd choices for Halloween. Let’s check some out that are available in Los Angeles:
Hangar 24 Gourdgeous
Part of the Local Fields series that includes Polycots (apricots), Palmero (dates) and Essence (grapefruit). This base of porter gets a liberal and truly local dose of pumpkins from near the brewery that were prepped for the brewery by volunteers. It has a big real pumpkin taste with a hint of spice.
TAPS Pumpkin Ale
Victor Novak has a way with this beer. I look forward to for what passes for an L.A. fall just to get a taste of this beer. I sampled it again at Union Station during L.A. Beer Week and was again amazed at how delicate this beer is. Simple but direct.
A harvest pumpkin ale from Utah is the little brother, so to speak, of their Crooked Line Series concoction Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin ale. You can find both and depending upon the situation. Before turkey would be better for Punk’n and Oak Jacked for dessert.
Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin
The Boston Beer folks are also doing two gourd beers this year. Harvest pumpkin is “brewed with over 17 pounds of real pumpkin per barrel…” They also do an imperialized version by the name of Fat Jack that has a weird squished pumpkin face on the label.
The Bruery Autumn Maple
This is a yam beer brewed with (again) 17 pounds of yams as well as a symphony of ingredients like nutmeg, vanilla and maple syrup among others. It may be the beer that re-started gourd beers and it is one of the few done with Belgian yeast.
Avery Brewing from Colorado has fashioned another twist on the pumpkin by roasting and then adding to rum barrels along with nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger to create a big 15% (sometimes higher) behemoth of a beer. Thank goodness the bottles are only 12ounces.
There you go, enough holiday ales to scare away the scariest creatures from the Walking Dead, True Blood or worst of all Twilight. And you might be able to try most of these beers at the Blue Palms Pumpkin-palooza on October 27. So check out their Facebook events tab for details.
Your Homework is to improve upon the standard beer snacks. We all know (now) about beer pairing dinners so instead of just plain potato chips or pretzels, try to pair the beer with your munchies. How about changing things up? There are more than one flavor of pretzels in our brand extension world. Trader Joes has flat pretzels and Snyders has spicy cheddar and buffalo wing flavors in addition to their traditional sourdough. Jerky is hand crafted like beer too. Lawless Jerky from right here in Santa Monica has exotic flavors with heat and spice that would be matched well against some craft beer. Be bold and creative.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.